Archive for September, 2012

6 Tips for Starting a Consulting Practice (or Launching a Job Search!)

September 28, 2012

“Take my advice, I’m not using it” has always been one of my favorite lines.  Why?  Because it describes in a comical way how I started my consulting practice as a Career Coach and Training Consultant over 20 years ago.  I didn’t have a business plan, didn’t have a website for many years, have never had an office outside of my home, didn’t have fancy marketing materials or even a cell phone!  But what I did have was a passion for helping people find jobs and performing better in their careers. I had a belief that because I knew what I loved doing and was good at, there would be a market for what I was offering…….and it turns out, I was right.

My experience should give hope to anyone thinking about taking the entrepreneurial plunge.  Who would have thought that starting an independent consulting practice and starting a job search would require many of the same considerations?  So based on my 20+ years of surprisingly successful experience as a Career and Training Consultant, here is some advice to aspiring consultants and job hunters alike!

  1. Follow your bliss – What have you’ve always longed to do?  To me, there is no more important question to answer when considering becoming a consultant or job hunter:  Is there a way to do work that I am passionate about, find meaningful and will support me and my family?  A new job or consulting opportunity that is a perfect match for your passions and expertise may well be out there.  So figure out what your passions are, what you’re good at and what you have to offer the marketplace.  Most people tend to undervalue their talents, skills, and experience, so it may take an outsider to help you identify your most marketable skills and expertise and that could be a wise investment before starting either endeavor.
  2. Test the marketplace – Can you really get paid for your expertise and passions?  Where is the need in the marketplace for what you uniquely offer? Find out byinvestigating the marketplace and researching organizations that may need or are looking for your skills and expertise.  Find out what’s going on right under your nose – in your neighborhood, local businesses, community, and non-profit organizations.  Just this week, one of my job search clients walked into a company a mile from his house to apply for a job in person (yes, people still do this and should!), left his resume with the receptionist and got a call back from the hiring manager that afternoon!  I encourage my clients and aspiring consultants to read local newspapers, business journals, organization websites, and talk to professional and personal contacts about current company needs, initiatives, and problems that might require their unique talents and skills.  I encourage them to meet decision makers through information interviewing or through a referral.  This is crucial in determining if there is indeed a need and market for what you are offering.
  3. Watch your expenses and keep your overhead low – Many of my colleagues have made the mistake of signing expensive lease agreements for office space that their practice simply couldn’t support.  Many of my job search clients do the same: setting up elaborate home offices, or buying new computers and phones – spending money they need to live on while looking for a new job. Make a coffee shop your office!  My best guess would be about 75% of coffee shop regulars are consultants or job hunters who are meeting with potential clients, having interviews, writing resumes and cover letters. I should know, I’m one of them!
  4. Network, network, network – Do you have to network?  The unequivocal answer is Yes – that’s if you want to be successful!  99.5% of my consulting business has come from networking and 80% of all jobs come through networking.  Networking who you know, and who knows you, is the most effective way to find a job or consulting gig.
  5. Develop marketing materials – A consulting brochure, a website, or resumes and cover letters,  need to sell your expertise, skills, and your “value proposition” to potential customers and hiring managers in a high impact way.  Engaging the services of a professional web designer and resume writer can be extremely beneficial.  In fact, I just bartered my career coaching services with a web designer and I now have an attractive new website that cost me nothing more than sharing my expertise.
  6. Blow your own horn – Whether you are selling your consulting services to potential customers or selling yourself to potential employers, you must have well prepared “verbal commercials” that promote who you are and what you have to offer. In coaching hundreds of clients looking for new careers, I have learned that this is one of the hardest things for people to do.  And you can and must learn to promote your “brand” as a job hunter or consultant, because your competition is doing it loud and strong!

Starting a consulting practice requires confidence, determination, and self-motivation – and so does an effective job search.  But the satisfaction and rewards are worth the effort!  I encourage aspiring consultants to contact the Center for Women and the SC Women’s Business Center for help getting started on the right track.

Jan Moorman is President of Jan Moorman & Associates, a Career Coaching and Training Consulting Firm located in Charleston, SC. She can be reached at www.janmoormanandassociates.com or 843-410-3526.

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C4W Member Profile: Lisa Burbage

September 19, 2012

What is your profession? I am the Director of Recruiting and Training for ERA Tides Realty, where I sell real estate as well.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career?  In my spare time, I have enjoyed being active in the Charleston community. Currently I am a Board member for the College of Charleston School of the Arts. Hobbies and ways to unwind include swimming, walking/running, reading, entertaining and attending art performances.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? 2 years

What inspired you to become a member? Professional development and networking.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? Opportunity to network with like-minded women.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Reach out to people one-on-one and network.

How can people connect with you? Either by phone, (843) 793-4430 or email, lburbage@eratidesrealty.com

C4W Member Profile: Penelope Jean

September 12, 2012

What is your profession? Publicist and writer

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Travel, reading, writing, good wine, Charleston dining, time with friends and family.

What inspired you to become a member? I met Jennet over a year ago when she was in the ABC studio for Lowcountry Live. The center was featured on the show again the other day and I decided on a whim to join. I’d like to connect with more women locally and want to check out speakers and events through the center.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Success is accomplished in the first step because joy is in the journey.  Your action ignites a chain reaction and the people, events, and circumstances you need for success will be drawn to you.

How can people connect with you?

Website: www.PenelopeJean.com
Email: Penelope@PenelopeJean.com
Mobile: 615-568-5948
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PenelopeJean
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/penelope.jean.3
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PenelopeJeanChannel?feature=guide

Social Media for Recruiting: Are Women Business Owners at a Disadvantage?

September 7, 2012

No matter the size of your business, recruiting the best employees is a challenge. With the increased usage of social media as a recruitment tool, women business owners may be at a bit of a disadvantage.

According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, women use social media more than men. This would seem to give women business owners a bit of a leg up when it comes to using social media to recruit candidates, but that may not be the case.

The Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2012 showed that 93% of business owners who use social media for recruiting used the site LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the only social media site that is used by more men than women. In fact, the Pew Research study showed there were nearly twice as many men using LinkedIn as women.

Because business owners who use social media for recruiting report a 43% increase in the quality of candidates, women business owners may be missing the boat on some of the best available talent.  Of course, you can also use Facebook and Twitter for recruiting, and women use these sites much more than men.

Now is the time for women business owners to consider using social media as a recruiting tool.

Ways to Use Social Media for Recruiting

Identify Candidates

Just as business owners are learning to use social media to recruit candidates, job seekers are using their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages to seek work. Some of the best candidates aren’t actively looking for a job, but you can still reach out to them. By identifying these passive candidates, you will expand your pool and increase your chance of finding the best talent.

Post Open Jobs

Posting open jobs on social media sites is another way to use social media as a recruitment tool. Some of your followers will share the job posting with their own network, and greatly increase the number of potential candidates.

Social media isn’t only effective for recruiting full-time employees. It is possible to effectively recruit a seasonal or part time employee using social media as well.  You will reach college students, stay-at-home moms and other groups who are looking for supplemental income.

 Current Employees

Ask your current employees to aid in your recruitment efforts. One way that they can do this is by posting about their job and spreading the word to their social network about any openings. Having a current employee vouch that your business is a great place to work can further increase the interest from qualified candidates.

Consider offering your employers an incentive should their networking result in a new hire.

Screen Candidates

Another way that you can use social media in the recruitment process is to screen candidates once they have been identified. A quick peek at their Facebook profile may be enough to knock some candidates out of the running.

Keep in mind that when you look at the profiles of potential candidates, there is a good chance that you will see protected class information – that is information that cannot legally be used to eliminate candidates. This includes race, gender etc.. Even if you do not use this information to make a decision there is a chance that someone will say that you did.

A Helping Hand

Social Media – Just a Tool

Social media is just one tool. It does not take the place of other methods of recruitment and it certainly does not eliminate the need for the proper screening of candidates. To be sure that you are following all applicable employment laws during the recruitment process, it is a good idea to have a helping hand.

Working with a human resources consultant can ensure that you don’t put yourself in a position to come under scrutiny. A qualified HR consultant can make the recruitment process easier and give you a better chance at retaining quality employees.

Other Tips

Get on LinkedIn

If you do not use LinkedIn, you need to start. While the other social networking sites can aid in your recruitment efforts, LinkedIn is the only one that is specifically for business use.

Need a Following

For any type of social media initiatives to be as effective, you need to continue to develop a following. The more followers, the more access you’ll have to qualified candidates.

Continually work on developing your social media presence.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

It is no secret that many candidates embellish their resumes. The same is true for what you read on their social media profiles. Don’t believe everything that you read. Instead, you will need to verify important information.

Women in business who are not using social media as a recruitment aid may be missing out on some of the best talent. The next time you have a job opening to fill, or if you just want to develop a list of potential talent for future positions, social media is a great place to start.

Pat Eardley is a Human Resources Advisor with more than 16 years’ experience in human resources management as a recruiter, trainer, and executive. Pat has a diverse background, having industry experience in retail, telecommunications, hospitality and manufacturing. As an Advisor she supports small-business owners in managing growth, compliance, work performance and employee relations, allowing Small Business owners to focus on creating a successful business environment for them and their employees. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, a SCORE Mentor and Center for Women Job Coach. Pat volunteers with local shelters and nonprofit organizations and assists with resume writing, interviewing skills, professional appearance and job placement. You can find out more about Pat and the services she offers at www.pateardley.com.

* First appeared in the Business Review section of The Post and Courier on Monday, July 31, 2012.


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